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It’s Employee Appreciation Day. Who Feels Like Celebrating This Year?

March 5, 2021
By Laura McAllister

Like all other celebrations in the pandemic, Employee Appreciation Day looks and feels different this year. Employees are tired, stressed and frustrated; and, as a result, 40% have experienced burnout during COVID-19.

Externally, they are overwhelmed by a turbulent environment. Internally, they may be underwhelmed by a lack of connection and support. Even when circumstances shift constantly, employees’ desire to feel valued and important never wavers – and, therefore, your commitment to supporting these needs shouldn’t either.

Recognition and Appreciation Can Help

Although similar and often intertwined, recognition and appreciation serve two separate and distinct functions. Recognition highlights employee behaviors that drive goals and achieve results. Appreciation, on the other hand, fulfills core psychological longings we all share: to find purpose in our work, to realize our unique human potential, to belong.

When fully aligned around a shared purpose, recognition and appreciation, together, offer a powerful combination to inspire individual belonging and foster organizational success. Each reassures that our presence and work are meaningful to others and that we make a difference.

Gratitude Offers More

If recognition is an act, and appreciation is a feeling, we need to go a step further and practice gratitude to create a culture of belonging in which employees thrive. Gratitude grounds us in the present and gives us perspective. It works from the inside out, benefiting the giver first and then the recipient. Best of all? Gratitude is contagious.

From a business standpoint, cultures imbued with gratitude boost employee productivity, retention, job satisfaction, and physical and mental health. From a personal standpoint, they create heightened opportunity for personal satisfaction, engagement and even joy … at work.

This year – as we look back on a year full of challenges and growth – what if instead of Employee Appreciation Day, we celebrate Employee Gratitude Day?

A Different Kind of Focus for a Different Kind of Day

Nebulous by nature, gratitude cannot be confined to a specific program, process or platform. Rather it is authentic, organic and heartfelt – qualities that make it both deceptively challenging and incredibly simple. All that’s required to nurture it? Your time and intention.

Try this right now.

  1. Pause. Stop to reflect on those who have really made a difference for you in your work life: Who has helped you out when you needed it? Who saved you when you were in a pickle? Who went to bat for you? Who shared the credit when they didn’t need to? Who stopped to check on you when you needed to be picked up?
  2. Share. Take the time to tell or show them how much that meant to you. Better yet, write it down in the form of a note and send it off. The act of writing ingrains these positive feelings on a deeper level, both for you and the recipient.

That’s it. Two simple practices to embed gratitude in your work life. Practiced with regularity, your gratitude will extend further than you imagine and touch people in ways you can’t predict.

That’s an outcome – and a day – worth celebrating.